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My Cat Has an Eating Disorder!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This will sound funny and is occasionally amusing, but it really adds a good bit of stress to our daily life.
4 years ago my husband and I adopted a kitten (our 3rd cat) from a local shelter. I have had cats all my life and have never experienced anything like this cat's obsession with food.

Here is a list of things he has stolen AND EATEN:
* raw potatoes
* fresh tomatoes (his favorite)
* raw chicken
* raw pork
* sour patch kids
* any kind of potato chip
* any kind of cooked meat
* bags of shredded cheese
* strawberries
* blackberries
* thai peppers (well, with those he just left teeth marks)
* pretzels
* sunflower seeds
* an entire bag of bagels
* a pork loin off my husband's dinner plate
* french fries off my husband's dinner plate
* a chicken breast off my husband's dinner plate
* a bag of rice (which he didn't eat, but left a trail of rice from the kitchen, to the dining room, back to the kitchen, down the hall, and into the bedroom)

Do I need to go on? If we are stupid enough to leave anything out, he will steal it and hide under the bed in our guest bedroom (which is at the opposite end of the house from the kitchen). We call that bedroom his drugstore because one time I found a bag of cough drops under the bed.

I even have pictures of him leaping straight up from the floor to my husband's shoulder (hubby is 6'3") to swipe at a bag of chips!

When we sit down for a meal, we have to lock him in a bedroom. When I'm cooking, I have to lock him up. When I come home with groceries, I have to lock him up because in the time it takes me to go to my car and back, he's already stolen something from one of the grocery bags.

We don't even know what to do about it besides lock him up all the time. He seems used to that but of course he still gets ahold of things, like when I forget to put something up or if I turn my back for a millisecond.
Does anyone else have this problem?
post #2 of 10
I have to ask. If you are around when he does this (you had examples of situations where you would be in the room when he does this like cooking, or stealing food during a meal), what is your reaction to him? And have you ever willingly given him any "people" food?

My Muddy will sometimes come up to me while I'm eating ice cream and paw the bowl while I eat. But he only does this because I let him lick the bottom of the bowl when I'm done (no chocolate). I will push his paw away and tell him to wait. If he settles down into my lap, he gets it when I'm done. If not, he doesn't get the reward.

My impression is that this is not an eating disorder, but a discipline issue. It's sort of like kids needing to learn their boundaries.
post #3 of 10
I dont think it's an eating disorder.All of the stuff that your kitty eats that has meat is just normal. Jake will drink coke as I mentioned in my other thread, he also steals potato chips, in fact he just ate a breadstick, which technically is not part of a cat diet b/c it has absolutely no meat! I don't understand itut I don't think it means he has an eating disorder. Eating disorder will be like eating dirt or things that have absolutely no nutritional value, at least from what I've heard
post #4 of 10
If he's stealing things he's not going to eat and just stashing them, perhaps it's not really a food-related-issue. Maybe he's bored and this is his chosen form of entertainment?
post #5 of 10
I agree with above, it sounds like a discipline issue. Closing him up in a room definitely isn't going to help. Question is are you willing to give your kitty extra daily attention. The easy way to stop him from going after food is to lock him away from it, but this doesn't solve the problem.
First thing you need to do is stop leaving any food out or any access to, this simply is setting him up to fail. Also this can be very dangerous, eating raw rice, even a little bit, can kill him! As well as other things he may ingest....
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
The subject was really more of a joke than me thinking Taxi really has an eating disorder.

But, to respond to some of your comments/suggestions:

I never feed my cats people food (other than occasionally letting them lick an ice cream bowl). My oldest two cats have never begged for food or stolen things. I'm sure if I left a bowl of tuna fish salad on the counter, they would eat it when I wasn't looking! But in general, they are not interested.

I know we should refrain from leaving food out. Trust me, we do try not to leave things out. But you would not believe how easy it is to forget every now and then. And when I bring groceries into the house, I can NEVER get them put away fast enough before he gets into a bag and steals something. Unless I spend the entire time screaming, yelling, and stomping around like a maniac while I'm putting the groceries away, he WILL get something. That's why I lock him up.

Keeping a water gun handy at the dinner table helps, but I have terrible aim and inevitably get water in my husband's goulash. Or his eyes. He is generally the primary target of Taxi's madness. Also, I've noticed that a lot of folks in this forum are against squirting a cat and say that discipline doesn't work on cats anyway.

I really don't think it's normal for a cat to eat tomatoes. Or sour patch kids. Sure, all cats like things outside of their ordinary diets, but for Taxi to steal a RAW POTATO and eat it is just abnormal!

I get that it's technically a discipline issue, but I do think he has an unhealthy obsession with eating in general. We have to feed the other two cats in a separate room and can't even leave cat food out because he will literally eat until he pukes, and then eat more!

It is so frusturating that I can't even make a PB&J sandwich without having to push Taxi off the counter at least 10 times in the process (and losing a piece of bread that he manages to grab).
post #7 of 10
My boys were like this when they were young, so I made sure they were shut out of the room when I was cooking and eating.

They are now all between 2 and 3 years old and will happily curl up and sleep next to me while I am eating, because they know that no matter how much begging they do, they will not get a single scrap.

If I want to give them for example a little treat of cooked fish when I cook dinner, I will put it to one side and put it in their bowls after we have finished eating.

But despite being complete pigs when they were young (to the extent of even having a kitten land in my plate of food!) they know now that they will not get one single thing from me, so they leave me alone when I am eating.

I still shut them out of the kitchen when I am cooking but that is because of the danger of hot pans and hobs and sharp knives, but they have learned that mealtime begging doesn't earn any reward at all other than being removed from the room, and they gave up trying long ago. Persistence and consistence are the key!

Edit to add that one of mine will still try to steal cheese from the fridge when he thinks we're not looking, we have to make sure the fridge is locked so he can't get in there - sometimes an obsession overrides being told no and you have to investigate other means of preventing them from doing it
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Okay, well that makes me feel a little better, Epona!

I am far better at keeping Taxi away from my food than my husband is. I suspect that when I'm not around, he thinks it's "cute" to let Taxi lick his plate while it's still on the table. Argh!
post #9 of 10
I found your post very amusing just because our Marshmallow does it too (to a lesser degree). Marshmallow, a Siamese, is obsessed with food, people food to chicken feed. He eats until he throws up. It's all he thinks about, he schemes and he eats very quickly when he sees us coming toward him to take away whatever he's got. I believe it started when he was very young when the litter was abandoned behind a supermarket, I assume he ate garbage there before they were brought to the shelter.

I do think there's an element of a game or a challenge, but if I discipline my guy too much about the food, he becomes distant- so be easy on your little food bandit.

Apparently this is common with Siamese cats, but it doesn't look like Taxi is.
post #10 of 10
I tend to think that you get a cat with that kind of omnivorous appetite for people food when the cat started out as a stray. A friend adopted a kitten who had been living with his mother and siblings in a town dump. Even though he's grown now and very well fed, he still scarfs his food down and tries to get at everything he can. Fortunately they seem to have curbed him of his kittenhood habit of diving right into the meat section of the refrigerator; you'd be scrabbling around trying to grab him and he'd be trying to eat anything he could reach.
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